Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Whitney Climbs the Tower of Babel and Learns What Happens to Snobs

In Whitney Climbs the Tower of Babel and Learns What Happens to Snobs, written by Therese Johnson Borchard, Whitney Bickham and her soccer team mates are on a winning streak. They are supposed to be preparing for the next game, but because they have done so well this year, they feel like they don’t need to practice any more.

When the team shows up for practice after their latest win, the coach gives them a lecture about their lack of effort during practice. Even though they have done well during the games, he’s fed up with their boasting and thinking they can slack off after each game. Instead of having practice, the coach sends the team home to think things over. His parting words to them are, “If any of you think you don’t need practice, I don’t want you on the team. I’d rather have a couple of struggling kids who work hard at this game than some gifted players who think they know everything.”

Whitney goes home and gets out her grandmother’s Emerald Bible. The Bible transports her back in time to the land of Shinar where the Tower or Babel is being built. Whitney gets to hear all the workers bragging about their tower – how big it is, how wonderful it is, how much better it is than any tower ever built. Whitney is around to witness God’s wrath when he turns the workers against each other by making them speak in tongues they don’t understand. She realizes how destructive an arrogant attitude can be and resolves to change her ways (and hopefully convince her teammates to do the same).

Detailed line drawings by Wendy VanNest liven up nearly every page. And, all the pages, those with text and those with just pictures, are highlighted with a green background.

What I Like: I like time-travel books where modern-day people get to travel back in time and witness historic events as they are happening.

What I Dislike: Whitney must open a magic Bible, her “Emerald Bible,” in order to get sent back in time. The Bible was a gift from her grandmother who shared many Bible stories with her, and Whitney travels back to Biblical times where she learns valuable lessons she can apply to her present situation. However, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a Bible having “magical” properties. The premise works well with this series, but I just don’t like the Bible being used for magic, no matter how good the intentions are. However, having said that, I’m sure this type of story is popular, and if it makes kids want to read, and learn about, the Bible, then it has its good side.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 9-12.

Publisher Info: Paulist Press, 2001; ISBN: 0809166755; Paperback, $5.95.

Buy now at Amazon.com $5.95.

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